ALLEN, Texas - The Allen Americans announced a new affiliation agreement for the 2021-22 season, becoming the first-ever ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Seattle Kraken.
"The ECHL plays such a key role in the development of NHL players," said Ron Francis, Kraken GM. "This is a very important decision for the long-term success of our organization, and we’re excited to be engaged with a championship level organization in the Allen Americans."
Under the affiliation agreement, the Americans will serve as a resource for the development efforts and personnel needs of the Kraken. The agreement allows Kraken prospects to be assigned to the Americans for developmental purposes throughout the season. Seattle’s temporary American Hockey League affiliate is the Charlotte Checkers for this season, which is also affiliated with the Florida Panthers.
The Kraken were previously awarded the AHL's 32nd franchise. The Palm Springs AHL franchise (team name to be announced) will begin its inaugural season at the Coachella Valley arena in the fall 2022. Construction for the privately funded project broke ground in early June and will be ready on time for hockey, concerts, family entertainment, other sports and more.
"The AHL is such a vital component to building our team and having success on the ice," said Olczyk. "It's our foundation, our bloodline. Likewise, the ECHL is a league where our prospects can get critical time on the ice while being coached by a guy like Steve Martinson who knows what it takes to make it to the NHL. We will have lots of eyeballs on Kraken prospects at all games, along with training camps and workouts."
"We are obviously familiarwith [Head Coach & General Manager] Steve Martinson and the Allen Americans as well as the DFW area," said Francis. This agreement helps ensure we can establish a connection to an ECHL Team based closer to our home base in Seattle, which will be mission essential not only this year, but also in future seasons when our AHL team in Palm Springs is up and running."
“I'm very excited to be working with Seattle, and be part of their player development,” said Americans Head Coach Steve Martinson. “They are a new organization, but have a ton of experienced management. I think we'll see some really good players from them this season.”
“Allen President & Governor Mike Waddell initiated the discussions with Seattle starting in March,” Olczyk said. “He was integral to striking the agreement, along with the rest of the Americans Executive Team.”
“The Americans Hockey Club is thrilled to have the opportunity to affiliate with the Seattle Kraken and they are well respected,” said Allen Americans President & Governor Mike Waddell. “Ron, Ricky and the Seattle Leadership Group have a proven track record over their hockey careers in developing players and winning hockey games. The energy around the Kraken being released into the NHL is palpable and we look forward to being a part of their inaugural season and well into the future.”
The ECHL is "arguably the best AA hockey league in the world," said Olczyk and a critical step in the developmental process for aspiring AHL and NHL talent. "Away from the ice surface is where there is so much value. Players learn how to be pros. European players who have never lived in North America get accustomed to life and maybe need to learn the language too. To be in the DFW Metroplex, and to be able to engage ina first-class situation like what Steve and Mike have in place in Allen will be a plus for us this season, and hopefully for many years to come. There is so much personal growth for players. They live on their own, in their own apartments, managing their food, learning how to cook, buying a car, asking guys in the locker room why a certain insurance is needed, getting involved in the community."